The English language is hard. Not only does it have many words that look alike, but it also has words that sound exactly alike but have different meanings. This can be very confusing to anyone trying to learn the language.
Words that sound the same but have different definitions are called homophones. They are particularly frustrating to spell if English is not your first language. In fact, many native speakers get them mixed up from time to time as well.
Won and one are perfect examples of a homophone, and below we take a closer look at how they are spelled, what they mean, and how you should use them in writing.
Won vs. One: What’s the Difference?
Won is a verb that means to have been victorious or to have emerged on top. One can be used as a noun, pronoun, or adjective to describe the number representing a single item, individual, or unity of multiples.
Won and one are homophones, or two words that sound exactly the same but have different meanings. Homophones with the same spelling are also called homonyms, but won and one are not homonyms due to their different spellings.
Won Spelling and Use
Won is the past tense and past participle of the verb win, which means to be victorious in a game or contest, to emerge on top, to be the most successful, or to gain someone’s approval or support through persuasion or example.
Win can be used as a noun, but its past tense, won, is always used as a transitive verb – or a verb that takes an object.
- As the match came to an end, she knew she had won before the referee made it official.
- The soccer team won their district playoff game, advancing them into the state final bracket.
- Although they were surprised to have won the lotto draw, they chose to be humble and donate half their winnings.
Origin of Won
As explained above, won is the past tense and past participle of the word win, a 14th-century combination of the old English winnan, meaning to “work, struggle, or fight for,” and the Proto-Germanic gewinnan, meaning to “gain or succeed by struggling or conquering.”
As a verb, win was used to describe a victorious event. The words won and winning are from the 17th century, meaning to gain the affection or esteem of something.
One Spelling and Use
One is a number that corresponds to a single thing. It is more than zero and less than two and is the lowest cardinal number, or counting numbers that start at one, are not fractions, and continue sequentially (for example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…).
- After my morning, all I need is one more good reason to go home and sleep until tomorrow.
- To get a better grade, add one example to your presentation explaining how you came up with your hypothesis.
- There is only one class to attend tomorrow to finish the training.
One is also used as an unspecified pronoun. One may also mean the same as or identical or to signify two seamlessly joined things.
- One never knows what the next day will bring.
- A dog and a wolf are technically one and the same species.
Origin of Use
One is from the 13th-century Old English an, meaning the number one. It was originally pronounced as “un,” with the now-standard pronunciation as “wun” not adapted until the 14th century in West England.
Won and one are homophones, meaning they are pronounced the same despite their different spellings and meanings. Won means to have come out on top or to have been victorious and is the past tense of the word win.
One is the word used to describe a single item, individual, or unity of multiples into one unit.